I don’t use this term to encourage too much information. That is to say, consider your audience ignorant. However, I use it in a way that says, “when they are unsure, they are not confused.” Your audience shouldn’t feel lost for extended periods of time. If they do, anger sets in.
So we must build a report with the audience throughout a film that lets them know that we will pay things off in due time. This can be accomplished in may ways, at many stages throughout the filmmaking process, however, I’m an editor.
We must build characters and show their traits in the micro moment, to inform a greater (macro) narrative: the narrative of the film. We understand why this character is acting this way because we have seen them react similarly before. History has given us a sense of comfort. We have see this before, so we know that it can happen.
Now you may say, “of course, why would we not build our characters in this way?” An issue may not exclusively arise in the assembly phase, but in the refinement and trimming stage. We (editor, director, producer and whatnot) know these characters. We know what they would say and would not say. So we begin to cut out those seemingly superfluous cues. But they are not superfluous in the least. They are giving a first time audience the tools to dig into this character. Sometimes we cut too deep and therefore, need to backup a little.
In these moments, we try to protect the audience. We try to give them a history with the character, or the world on which they can build their own perspective and enter the narrative themselves.